Tag Archives: San Diego Padres

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Southland Golf: A Look At The Success And Future Of The Links At Petco

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When it debuted a year ago, The Links at Petco Park nine-hole golf experience did so with a snap San Diego popularity akin to craft beer and fish tacos.

Three days of tee times to play Petco as a par-3 course in 2015 sold out in a matter of hours. Callaway Golf and the San Diego Padres added two more days and extended the hours each day and it sold out again.

A sixth extra day was added this year and tickets for the encore moved nearly as swiftly – save for a block of premium night-time tee times priced at $450 for a twosome and $900 for a foursome that eventually sold – and allowed 2,700 golfers to experience the event as opposed to 1,600 in 2015.

Callaway Golf Marketing Manager Nathan Adelman said the expanded tee time availability and upgraded course all proved to be big hits in the 2016 edition of The Links.

“The enthusiasm for (The Links at Petco) was just as much as a year ago, if not more,” he said. “We had a lot of come back, many of whom said they had an even better time this year, and we also had a lot of people participate who didn’t get to play last year.

“There was more energy in the stadium this year because we spaced the tee times closer so there more people in the park at once.”

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Among the course upgrades included tee boxes being staged at four levels of the stadium as opposed to three a year ago, but the awesome opening tee shot, hit toward center field and the San Diego skyline, remained at home plate.

From the tee boxes, golfers get two shots at an outlined green with a colored pin flag. A circle drawn around the flag serves as a birdie target. A ball hitting outside the circle but on the green is a par. Any shot landing outside is a bogey. The best-ball score is recorded for each hole.

Unlike last year, when the layout used several shared greens, this year, each hole had its own green, including an island green on No. 9. Course architect Geoff Shackelford, who worked on the Olympic course in Rio, consulted in this year’s layout to help evolve the course experience.

“He helped shape greens, bunkers and hazards to be true to where actually golf shots would be coming from,” Adelman said. “One of the reasons this event appeals to people is that despite being in a baseball stadium it’s an authentic golf experience. It’s a legitimate golf course.”

Shackelford also helped Callaway stretch the course a bit, extending the length of the longest shot to 165 yards. The shortest was 68 yards.

Two other changes this year included the incorporation of live scoring and also a non-profit partnership with Pro Kids and The First Tee of San Diego. Pro Kids sold mulligans and generated over $23,000 in donations, Adelman said.

“That’s really rewarding for us to see,” he said.

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After last year’s event, Adelman said the Callaway team spent the year brainstorming upgrades to the experience and entertained conversations from 15 organizations about holding a similar event for them.

Ultimately, Adelman said, Carlsbad-based Callaway chose to focus on its core business and improving the event in “our backyard.”

“We need to focus on selling golf equipment,” he said. “It’s a lot of energy and resources to pull off an event like this. We want to continue to focus on doing it here and doing it the best.”

Adelman noted imitators of The Links experience are coming out of the woodwork. For one, the Atlanta Braves hosted a similar event that didn’t involve Callaway or another equipment partner.

Adelman said The Links is an ideal environment to introduce people to Callaway equipment. Golfers not only hit Callaway clubs on each hole, each hole is manned by a Callaway staffer.

“That means we’re getting a touch point with them on every hole,” he said.

Adelman credited the partnership with the Padres as being critical to the event’s continuing success.

“It really is a collaboration,” he said. “We could not do this without their event team and their staff making sure everything runs smoothly. But they also couldn’t do it without us because there are a lot of golf nuances built into this event.”

As for the future of The Links, Adelman said Callaway and the Padres now have a two-year track record of proven success that he’s confident will continue.

“I have an inclination we’ll be back.”

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Callaway Petco

The Links At Petco: A Home Run For Golf

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If you love golf and you love Petco Park, Callaway Golf has designed your field of dreams on Tony Gwynn Drive.

On Wednesday, Callaway unveiled the Links at Petco, a nine-hole par-3 golf fun house set up inside the stadium giving you shots you thought you might only ever see on a video game. Seriously, who ever thought the fly balls at Petco one day would be golf balls?

Well, obviously, Callaway did.

In a genius dual use of a beloved sports venue, Callaway has given the game a much-need shot of creativity and pure golf fun under the sunny San Diego sky.

Our group teed off a little before 8 a.m. and was initially relieved to see the whole concept hadn’t been turned into a giant water hazard by the previous night’s deluge. What we discovered instead was an urban golf oasis set inside the familiar confines of a major league baseball stadium.

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The course includes a “Happy Gilmore” hole

Looking out toward center field, painted targets, flags and palms tree now stood where you’d otherwise find a pitcher and his defenders. Golf gloves replaced baseball gloves and mitts. And “Play ball” meant tee it up and discover an unprecedented day for golf.

The routing was nine tee shots scattered throughout the stadium – eight being from the concourse – toward targets painted on the field. Greens were outlined with a circle drawn around each pin. A ball on the green equaled a par. A ball in the circle equaled a birdie. Anything else was a bogey. And put your putter away. No one’s holing out here. Tee shots only. And this isn’t BYOC. You can leave your sticks in the car. Callaway’s got you.

At each tee box, a Callaway bag offered your options. The selections broke down into right- and left-handed clubs for men and women within the appropriate range of options for the distance.

I will tell you up front, this is a tough track, especially with the wind blowing in.

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Our group got off the No. 1 tee, behind home plate, in good shape, but then came the elevation change. Hitting from the upper deck toward the outfield, we quickly discovered the Pacific offers up about a three-club wind when it decides to blow.

The goal of getting a hole-in-one to instantly win a new Callaway drive suddenly seemed a little more daunting.
But the real prize was nine holes of pure fun and, for me, discovering Petco Park in a way I never had before. From warming up in the batting cages (our on-deck circle) to actually being at field level, it was a day at Petco unlike any other.

The familiarities of the game soon settled into the new venue. When a tee shot found the brown strip of dirt short of the outfield fence, appropriate ribbing about having warning-track power ensued.

As we were escorted around the course by our female caddie, Heather, the competitive juices soon began to flow and the desire to pull off a golf shot grew as we realized the true challenge the course offered.

Our group eventually racked up a respectable number of pars and even a few birdies on holes ranging from 45 yards to, with the wind, up to about 140. You never went deeper in your bag than an 8 iron.

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But I did, indeed, hit an 8 on No. 9, a lengthy hole played toward a green in deep center flanked by a palm tree – and I crushed it. Granted, wind was at my back, but I put one in the cheap seats, an outcome I relished and celebrated on the tee. You can keep your birdie. I just went deep at Petco. I dug that long ball.

But if ever there was a day you wished for a little slow play, this was it. It was over too soon, but given the success (the event sold out in hours at $50 a player) you’d have to imagine it’ll be back after it ends its run on Monday.

And who knows? Maybe it’ll be coming to other big-league stadiums. Who’s up for a West Coast swing? For now, Petco is the Pebble of major league baseball stadium golf courses.

I’m glad I crossed this one off my bucket list, but then again, who would ever thought it would exist.

Congrats to Callaway on an excellent concept and execution. What a great place to play through. Let’s do it again – soon.

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Swing Thought: Petco Park As A Par 3

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So if you’re playing Pecto Park as a par 3 from the elevated tee – the Altitude Sky Lounge – you’d split the Ps in SUPPLY and play the wind, right? I’m thinking an aggressive line. That sand doesn’t worry me. Looks like you’d get a fairly friend lie.

But who am I kidding? I’d probably end up playing a recovery from the concession stands.